Spoiled San Francisco Giants fans had a false sense of security heading into the 9th inning of NLCS Game 4 last night, and why wouldn’t they? Their Giants were up three runs after starter Matt Moore had limited the Cubs to just two runs on two hits over eight innings and were armed with the knowledge that they hadn’t lost a postseason elimination game in 10 tries over the last seven years including the improbable comeback win in Game 3 less than 24 hours earlier. They had ridden that streak to three World Series championships, one for every even-numbered year of the decade, inspiring the ubiquitous and hacky hashtag #BeliEVEN.
But if 40,000 buttholes puckering made a sound, it would’ve been audible over the silence in AT&T Park as that feeling of smug overconfidence quickly diffused like a fart in the wind when Bruce Bochy went to his meager bullpen in the 9th. Kris Bryant immediately singled off of goober/spaz Derek Law and stalwart Javier Lopez walked a previously-struggling Anthony Rizzo. With the tying run suddenly at the plate, a panicking Bochy went to his third reliever of the inning, Sergio Romo who promptly gave up a run-scoring double to Ben Zobrist.
With the door finally cracked, Joe Maddon kicked it open by masterfully capitalizing on Bochy’s overwrought maneuvering and played him like a yo-yo. Maddon called on lefty Chris Coghlan to pinch-hit, only to pull him in favor of Willson Contreras once Bochy predictably countered by bringing in lefty and not-so-Fresh Prince Will Smith. Sporting a strong .311 average against left-handers, Contreras took advantage of the situation and tied the game with a sharp single to center.
With all the air sucked out of the previously raucous atmosphere and seeing his manager drenched in panic, Gold Glove shortstop Brandon Crawford inexplicably botched a sure double-play when threw the ball away on a Jason Heyward sac bunt to the pitcher, putting the winning run on second with only one out. Desperately grasping at his last straw, Bochy brought in Hunter Strickland to face emerging superstar Javy Baez only to see him deliver the coup de gras with a single to score Heyward.
The Cubs now led 6-5, an unimaginable state of affairs just 10 minutes earlier, with closer Aroldis Chapman looming like an executioner to extinguish the series. He did just that by obliterating the side with three strikeouts. The North Siders had just completed the largest ninth-inning comeback win in a postseason clinching game in baseball history.
With the indomitable Giants finally slain, it’s on to the NL Championship Series where the Cubs will take on not only the Dodgers or Nationals but also the undyingly popular narrative of history. I’d welcome the chance to throttle Dusty Baker and exact revenge on last year’s NLCS unlikely hero Daniel Murphy. As for history? Fuck history. The 2016 Chicago Cubs don’t fear history, they make it.